My plans haven’t been going to plan since I last wrote, but it’s all worked out extraordinarily well. I had been invited to work on constructing a wooden house back in October, but a few days before I was due to arrive, heard that the owner wasn’t there at all, but working away on a humanitarian project on an island in the Indian Ocean. Thankfully I emailed to confirm.
By chance I had called in to see Cherry and Chris the week before, hosts that I had stayed with in 2010, just to see how they were and they said that they were in need of help should I become free. I said I’d let them know but didn’t imagine things would change before early next year. One mail later my plans changed and I returned to Las Bourges and a new project that is probably going to last me well into 2014.
More tree planting to start with, along with remodeling a garden, putting in hedges and reclaiming the potager from an autumn of neglect. I initially suggested a couple of weeks, but their location is excellent in regards to my proposed purchase. About half an hour away from the land, twenty minutes from the notaires and in the right area for discovering everything I may need in the future. In addition, Cherry used to be a property dealer, so knows all the ins and outs of buying land, how to approach negotiations and speaks very well the french. We have had plenty of interesting discussions and I have modified my requirements for proceeding with the purchase with her guidance. To keep me here for longer, there are a variety of interesting and challenging opportunities to help on their latest venture.
Their project is half an hour away in the other direction. A new house purchase, well, an old farmhouse in need of much renovation and alteration that they intend to move to next spring. Initially they’ll live in a converted outbuilding whilst being on site to oversee renovations and keep an eye on things as work progresses. Their current address is sold, so will need to be vacated fairly early in 2014. Once I’ve got the major planting and garden maintenance up to date, I’m hoping to work along side Ben and Mattieu as they install wiring and plumbing in the barn conversion, help with continued construction work and maybe even finishing if I stay around long enough. I’ll learn plenty, get to practice my french whilst on the building site and have time to concentrate on my own project. The woodworking’ll have to come at a later date.
It’s slightly unnerving being so calm and relaxed over Christmas after the last four years in the chalet. I do wonder how they’re all getting on up there in the mountains and the snow and have the occasional pang of nostalgia, though with my long term project about to start feel happy to have the mountains in the distance and a calmer workload to contend with. No mornings with thirty beds to change, or sacks of spuds to peel, or mountains of ironing to contend with, no digging snow and waiting tables or mending broken toilets and taps. I've been missing the camaraderie, the clients, the snow and the skiing, but the calm is lovely.
Instead I have a more regular timetable, with chickens to feed, Suzy the dog to walk, wood to fetch and frequently, a house to mind, as Chris and Cherry travel frequently for business and are often away. Free time to chill with a book or walk in the countryside, the weather has been amazing. Cold and clear with wonderfully warm afternoons in the sunshine, great for gardening and getting things planted.
Christmas has been great, christmas day, a family affair, with a smoked salmon, scrambled egg and bucks fizz breakfast, plenty of snacking and a delicious main meal starting with a hot asian prawn salad, followed by beef wellington and finished off with traditional english christmas pudding all washed down with plenty of suitable wine chosen by Chris, a veritable connoisseur. That saw us good for the rest of the day save a slice of cake early evening when other members of the family arrived for present exchanging. A lovely relaxed time with folk coming and going, popping out with Chris and Cherry to shop for plants whilst the weather is being kind and the bare root stock is still available. More delicious meals, a choice of english or french TV, a real treat as I hardly see the screen whilst I’m away, walks, chats and plenty of fresh air.
It’s been quiet on the property purchase front, I expect that everyone is otherwise occupied through the festive season, but I do hope to have news as we head into January that things are proceeding.
It’s New year’s Eve as I write. Home alone again just with the dog for company. We’ve had a good long walk in the sunshine this morning, I’ve prepared dessert and Simon, who I’ve probably mentioned before in my writings, a great english guy who keeps himself busy on building projects and traditional style restorations, is turning up in a while to welcome the New Year in. He’s picking up a rabbit on the way, we’ll drink and prepare and cook and drink, chat about allsorts and probably watch a bit of TV and toast 2014 as it arrives. Happy New Year to each and every one of you, may you be healthy, wealthy and wiser through the coming year. Embrace and enjoy it all with my love. xx